“It’s not a question for us Jews whether to seek or not seek justice – it’s a command,” Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) Vice-President Hernán Felman said Friday.
Felman was speaking at a ceremony in memory of the Jewish Argentinian lawyer Natalio Alberto Nisman, who was murdered in 2015 four days after he formally accused then-president of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, of covering up the role of Iranian officials in connection with the country’s deadliest terror attack.
“Tzedek, Tzedek tirdof (Justice, justice you must pursue),” said Felman. “We cannot be Jewish and remain indifferent to justice.”
Located at the Argentina-Israel Friendship Park in Ben Shemen Forest, the Friday ceremony organized by KKL brought more than 300 attendees to honor Nisman’s memory. Participants included Argentinian and Israeli leaders, public figures, Nisman’s family members and the Argentinian community in Israel.
A lawyer and federal prosecutor, Nisman was the chief investigator of the bombing of the Jewish Community Center AMIA in Buenos Aires in 1994. That terror attack left 85 people dead.
“There are those who fear the truth and who will do everything to hide it,” Knesset Chairman Yuli Edelstein said at the ceremony. “But the truth sets deep roots in the ground, as the tree that we just planted outside in Nisman’s memory. And the truth will flourish in some other place.”
“Nisman was driven to root out the truth, no matter what happens,” added Edelstein. “They told him to leave the case alone, but he wasn’t persuaded. Maybe someone thought that the truth would die with him, but they were wrong.”
As early as 2006, Nisman shed light into Iran’s involvement in AMIA’s terror attack, accusing Iranian high-level officials of planning it and Hezbollah members of carrying it out. Iran denied involvement in the attack, which led a few years later to the formation of a commission between the Argentinian and Iranian governments, known as the “truth commission.”
The day before Nisman was due to appear at a congressional hearing to explain his accusation against Kirchner of covering up Tehran’s involvement in the bombing, he was found dead in his apartment.
Nisman’s death was initially ruled as suicide, which led thousands of Argentinians to the streets in protest of what was already seen as the government’s fabrication of evidence. The death was later determined to be homicide, with Kirchner accused as the prime suspect.
The full disclosure of the events that led to Nisman’s death, including those responsible for it, remain unknown.
“The Argentinian government and people are deeply committed to the truth about AMIA’s terror attack and what happened to Nisman,” said Argentinian Ambassador to Israel Mariano Caucino, reaffirming Argentina’s commitment to the case.
Following the ceremony, participants gathered in front of the existing memorial for the victims of the 1994 Jewish Center attack and 1992 Israel Embassy attack, both in Buenos Aires, to unveil the monument built in Nisman’s honor. The Argentinian-Israeli musician Shlomo Yedov sang both in Spanish and Hebrew in honor of Nisman’s memory.
Attendees also planted trees around the memorial, meant to symbolize friendship and partnership between the two countries.
“Dear people, I have to tell you that I feel at home here,” said Sara Garfunkel, Nisman’s mother, in a tearful address to the audience.
“In this pain, in this mourning, we are together,” added Edelstein. “The explosion that destabilized the life of the Jewish community in Argentina was heard loud and clear here in the State of Israel. And remember this simple truth – we are brothers.”
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